This project has received funding by a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 623744.

MinePep - Establishing a novel technology platform for bio-based mineral processing

Development of peptides as agents for the separation of rare earth minerals via bio-flotation

Prinzip des Phage Display zur Identifizierung von anorganischen Bindepeptiden. A) Die Peptidbibliothek (2.7x109 verschiendene Peptidsequenzen). B) Bindung von Phagen-expremierter Peptidbibliothek an anorganische Partikel. C) Nicht-bindende und schwach interagierende Phagen werden entfernt. D) Stark gebundene Phagen werden eluiert mittels chemischer oder mechanischer Elution.
Principle of phage display for the identification of inorganic-binding peptides. A) The peptide library (2.7x109 different peptide sequences). B) Binding of the phage expressed peptide library to the inorganic target. C) Non-binding and weak interacting phages were removed. D) Strongly bound phages were eluted by chemical or mechanical elution. Photo: Franziska Lederer

Current recycling processes are insufficient by reason of scarce research improvement. Bio-based methods such as bioflotation are innovative approaches that could develop into efficient recycling technologies. The MinePep project is addressing the development of an innovative, clean process for the recovery of raw materials from primary and secondary sources. MinePep will target the development and application of specific peptides that can be used as agents in flotation processes. The focus will be on the recovery of rare earth elements (REEs) from electronic scrap.


The main technique applied in the MinePep project uses bacteriophage particles which generate special surface peptides that enable the identification of target specific phages by selective target binding. Those phage particles which exhibit the highest target specificity, are separated, modified and multiplied in order to use them in future projects in flotation processes. In particular, phage peptides with high affinity to LaPO4 and Y2O3 will be selected.

These compounds are the dominant rare earth components of powder in energy saving lamps. Therefore, such peptides can be used for recycling and recovery of rare earth compounds of lamp powder. As a long-term goal bio-flotation processes will be developed that use phage surface peptides for particle separation.

The outgoing hosts are two institutions at the University of British Columbia which developed an interdisciplinary approach by combining classical mineral processing techniques with modern molecular biological methods. The return host is the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf.

Kontakt: Marie Curie Fellow Dr. Franziska Lederer